I feel fortunate that my family lives in a world-class city like Chicago. My hometown ranks high on my list of great urban locales. Why? Because of the stunning skyscrapers that form its skyline. Because of how Lake Michigan curves around the eastern most end of the city. Because of the energy that exudes from its business, cultural, shopping and restaurant districts. Because of its ease and livability for families. And, mostly, because of its people.
This city of more than 2.7 million people is teeming with residents who can trace their roots around the world. At its heart, are the many ethnic neighborhoods that add to the pulse and beat of Chicago. And, on any given weekend, there is no shortage of multicultural events taking place that celebrate cultures from around the world and give you a look at the people and traditions who thrive within it.
Each week, I curate a list of the “top 5 multicultural events for families in Chicago this weekend.” On a regular basis, I’m stunned at the number and variety of cultural events happening in Chicago – both the city and its suburbs. Often, it’s nearly impossible to come up with just five events. And, personally, I struggle with trying to go to as many of them as possible – in just one weekend.
But, you don’t need to live in Chicago to discover and participate in multicultural events. I’m sure there are a multitude of similar events happening in urban locales across the US – and around the world. To help you find multicultural events in your hometown or your travel destination, I’d like to share 5 ways you can put together your own “top 5” list.
Here are 5 tips for finding multicultural family events in your hometown or travel destination:
1. Follow local bloggers. You know I had to put this one first, right? But, seriously, I feel like advice from a blogger is like advice coming from a friend – just someone you may not know in real life. Bloggers are often passionate about their hometowns, or events, or cultural institutions, or all of the above.
It’s worth it to spend a little time trying to figure out the ones who share similar passions and interests with you and then given them a “follow” or a “like” to reap the benefits. Maybe it’s a “mommy” blogger, or a special events blogger, or a travel blogger. If you follow enough bloggers from different backgrounds with different perspectives, you’ll get a diverse array of insights into local events and activities at any given time.
Of course, if you’re in Chicago, please subscribe to my blog, “like” Raising World Citizens on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss my weekly picks for the top 5 multicultural events for families in Chicago for the weekend.
2. Sign up for newsletters from local cultural institutions. You should see my email inbox. It’s always chock full of email newsletters from Chicago cultural institutions and organizations like the National Hellenic Museum, Swedish American Museum, Chicago Humanities Festival, and the list goes on.
Most of these institutions and organizations send out regular emails with lists of upcoming events – including many geared towards families. Whenever I get them, I jot down intriguing events on my calendar.
Of course, you also can follow their social media accounts to get the latest information via Twitter or Facebook - or however you prefer to stay connected.
In Chicago, we also have the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), which is "dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy." DCASE shares information on current events via Facebook and Twitter. It’s definitely a good idea to check to see if your hometown or travel destination has a similar department. I did a quick search and found similar organizations in New York City, San Jose, Calif., and Phoenix.
3. Consider social media to be your friend. I often use Twitter like a search engine – especially to find all of the latest “news” of special events and activities. It can be a great way to find local bloggers to follow, too.
Before my family headed to New York City this summer, I searched for #family #travel #events #NYC on Twitter and found a ton of great things for my family to do there. Plus, I found a few new bloggers and websites to “follow" while I was there to help make sure I didn't miss a thing.
Of course, you can do the same thing with other social media networks. A similar search on Google+ helped me find local NYC blogger, Mommy Poppins, who aims to help you "get more out of NY with kids."
4. Get to know the parenting publications and websites in your hometown – and see if they have similar ones in your travel destination. I am constantly on the hunt for local parenting and/or events publications websites in Chicago. Most sites include events calendars that are chock-full of great events and activities for you to enjoy with your family, and they often include helpful travel tips as well.
Two of my favorite resources are TimeOut Chicago Kids and Red Tricycle Chicago – all of which have weekly email newsletters with great tips on events, activities and other fun destinations in Chicago. I find that they offer a huge variety of events – mainstream and multicultural – to help keep you busy all weekend long.
When I was planning our trip to New York City, I checked out the New York City versions of both websites – TimeOut New York Kids and Red Tricycle New York City. As we made our way through New York City, it was helpful to have Red Tricycle New York City’s list of Manhattan's Top 10 Coolest Playgrounds. Thanks to them, my sons discovered one of their favorite places in New York City – the Heckscher Playground in Central Park that seems to be built into Umpire Rock (or the “mountains” to my sons).
5. Get social – in real life. Of course, our friends, families, neighbors and other parents we meet at the park can be fantastic resources, too. I love to hear about how other parents find cool activities and events for their families. As I said with bloggers – the more people you speak to the more you’ll get a wide variety of ideas to choose from.
It’s definitely more fun to go to events with a friend. That’s why I love that Meetup.com offers ways for parents to get together for playgroups – and just to explore your home turf. In Chicago, there are Meetup groups for "Multicultural Moms," "Mature Moms," "Moms & Tots," "Super Moms of School-aged Kids" and more.
Of course, you don’t need Meetup to do the same thing. Why not find a few other friends who want to take turn planning events for your families? I’m sure that, if you did, you’d end up going to a wide variety of events on a regular basis – and you just might discover a new area, cultural institution, or festival, too.
How do you find local multicultural family events in your hometown? What are some of your go-to sources? What are some your favorite events? Please share your tips and favorites in the comments below. Feel free to ask me any questions you have about finding multicultural events, too.
The multicultural fun continues on Facebook. Be sure to "like" Raising World Citizens on Facebook to join in on the conversation.
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